Ryan Sykes first came into the lives of the residents of Coronation Street in October 2000 when his elder sister, Linda Baldwin, attended the funeral of their sibling Dean who had been shot dead by police in the Freshco's siege.
Linda had been estranged from her problem family for several years, having had to look after them when their mother Evelyn had left them all. Linda eventually had to escape her rough, council house lifestyle and the funeral was the first time she had seen most of them since. Dean had turned to the bad in her absence but the withdrawn Ryan seemed to be holding on just to an existence outside a life of crime, having obtained a job as a driver. The funeral made Linda realise that she did want to keep in touch with her family.
Although she didn't quickly put her newly-found resolve into practice, she was given the opportunity to do so four months later when Ryan and his elder brother Jimmy turned up at Underworld with a request for £300 to enable Ryan to go to London to seek work now that he had lost his driver's job. Linda refused to put in the begging bowl and instead gave Ryan a job at the factory. He took to his simple loading duties with ease and worked hard but was upset to learn that the inquest into Dean's death that a policewoman had shot him and quickly found out that the self-same woman, Emma Watts, lived on the same street where he was now working.
Ryan started to stalk Emma, throwing a brick through the window of No. 7 when husband Curly was absent at a management conference and watched her every move from the shadows. Eventually he broke into the house when it was empty and got drunk on the supply of booze in there. Emma found him when she returned and he pinned her to the floor, intending to attack her with a chisel. She managed to talk him round and his grief overcame his anger. He fled from the scene of the crime but Linda found out what had occurred and reached an agreement with Emma, who felt some guilt for the shooting, not to take the matter further. Curly nevertheless found out about the attack and punched Ryan himself but Emma managed to regain the truce between the two sides.
Ryan then caused trouble when he knowingly sold some dodgy CD players to Tyrone Dobbs and Jason Grimshaw but a piece of rough persuasion from Dennis Stringer resulted in most of their money being returned to them, although some was still owed.
Ryan settled down for the next few months but events took a turn for the worse in the September when he discovered that his hated mother was going to be married to Fred Elliott. He and Jimmy arrived drunk at the country hotel where the wedding was due to take place but it was the explosive end of another marriage that of Mike Baldwin and Linda - which dominated the events of the day when Mike finally realised the adulterous ways of his younger spouse and threw her out of his life. Mike started divorce proceedings and refused to reveal Linda's whereabouts.
Ryan got into trouble again when Dennis Stringer put pressure on him for the remainder of the money owing from the CD players and Ryan forged his van driving expenses at Underworld to find the cash. Mike soon found out about this deception and sacked him. In revenge, Ryan reported Mike to the police for the suspected murder of Linda after neither he nor anyone else in the family had heard from her. Mike was arrested on suspicion but set free for lack of evidence. Ryan had long left the area when the Sykes family found out that Linda had settled down in Dublin.
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